The Return of the Durutti Column (1980)

Categories: 1980 and Music.

This is a really unique take on Post Punk, if it can even be called that, featuring expressive guitar playing over some pretty minimalist bass and drums (sometimes not even that). In fact, it’s more the era it was made in and the legendary post punk producer who supervised it that mark it out as post punk; I’m not sure it really qualifies, But regardless of what it is, the music is lovely and really stands out from the other British bands of the era, though the production is kind of dated. Pretty interesting. 8/10 Read More

Waiting for a Miracle (1980) by The Comsat Angels

Categories: 1980 and Music.

To my ears, the debut of The Comsat Angels marks the point where post punk tried to reconcile itself with more conventional rock music. Though there are still hallmarks of the post punk sound, there’s also much more of a focus on conventional songwriting. It helps that the songs are mostly excellent and so it doesn’t sound like the sound has been watered down for commercial viability or other ideas of accessibility. One thing, though: listening to the expanded edition I cannot help but like the demos a little more than the finished products. It sounds, at least a little Read More

From the House of the Dead (1980) by Leos Janacek, performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker, Wiener Staatsopernchor conducted by Charles Mackerras featuring Jiri Zahradnicek, Ivo Zidek, Vaclav Zitek

Categories: 1924, 1928, 1978, 1980, and 1992.

This disc pairs Janacek’s last (and shortest?) opera with two unrelated chamber pieces performed by an entirely different orchestra, grumble. Read More

Sound Affects (1980) by The Jam

Categories: 1980 and Music.

From the opening bass line of “Pretty Green” the shift in The Jam’s sound is obvious. Yes, there are still Mod traces and Weller’s songs are still recognizable as Weller songs, but it’s clear that the UK post punk obsession with reggae, funk and David Bowie has found its way to The Jam. On the one hand, that’s a good thing: One thing I don’t love about The Jam is how relatively indistinguishable each of the first four records is from one another. (That’s not to say some aren’t better than others…) With Sound Affects this ends. But This feels Read More

Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

Categories: 1980, Movies, and TV.

In 1980, there was no real way for for North American audiences to digest non-English language television. So, on occasions when multiple-episode television programs made there way over to North America, they were screened at film festivals as “films.” A number of European “art house” films from the ’70s and ’80s are actually made-for-tv. It is a testament to the quality of some European television that their mini-series could pass for “art house” films in The United States and Canada. One of these films is Fassbinder’s 900 minute adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz, a novel I haven’t read but one of Read More

Holst: A Winter Idyll (1993) by David Atherton et al.

Categories: 1897, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1911, 1921, 1927, 1980, 1988, 1989, and Music.

This is a collection of short orchestral pieces and excerpts of longer ones, by Holst. It is not performed by the same group throughout (as it’s a compilation) though, as far as I can tell (listening to a digital copy), the conductor is the same throughout (David Atherton). “A Winter Idyll” starts rather lively for the title. It’s decent late Romantic stuff. It’s fine. It doesn’t have me jumping out of my shoes or anything. Why anyone excerpts parts of symphonies I’ll never know. (Well I do know why they do it, I just don’t like it.) I’d much rather Read More

Nine to Five (1980, Colin Higgins)

Categories: 1980 and Movies.

This has held up surprisingly well, and, on the unfortunate side, it’s somehow still relevant. There’s fairly decent satire of office environments and office, work there’s tons of biting comedy about the patriarchy, and the dream sequences and plot escalation are suitably absurd. Frankly, I have little to say in criticism beyond my usual thing about happy endings. This would be better if it was darker – actual murder and what have you – but otherwise I found myself pleasantly surprised. 7/10 Read More

Kaleidoscope (1980) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I have no idea what kind of departure this record was for the band, as its the first Banshees record I’ve heard. So even though I read that this was a big departure, I don’t have any idea, What I hear is well-executed UK post punk with “brighter” arrangements (for lack of a better word) than normal, and certainly that should not be a surprise, given the presence of a member of Magazine. Siouxsie Sioux has been incredibly influential on female vocalists, especially in the world of Indie Rock. That’s readily apparent here. And I figure that should be acknowledge. Read More

Emotional Rescue (1980) by the Rolling Stones

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I don’t know what to do with my first impressions.I’ve learned to distrust them. I give every album I review a minimum of three listens in order to defeat my initial prejudice. I adopted this approach, I think, because I wanted to be fair, but also because sometimes my initial impression did not jive with a review I read or a recommendation I received. And it’s served me well, mostly. I would have never become a prog rock fan without the method, and that means I probably wouldn’t have found my way to jazz and much of the other esoteric Read More

Songs the Lord Taught Us (1980) by the Cramps

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I always thought the Cramps invented Psychobilly. But I was reading an [i]AV Club[/i] primer the other month and it implied that the Cramps are not pure enough to really be Psychobilly, i.e. they’re too diverse. I find this extraordinarily odd. Not only did the writer (and presumably other people) believe that the Cramps are diverse, but he seemed to believe (along with others) that the best Psychobilly is even less diverse than this record. Bizarre, no?Anyway, let’s just pretend/assume they did invent Psychobilly. To the best of my knowledge, their approach was pretty unique at the time: way more Read More

The Correct Use of Soap (1980) by Magazine

Categories: 1980 and Music.

Even though Devoto wasn’t in the Buzzcocks for very long, the association isn’t surprising once you hear Magazine. Though one of the original post punk bands (perhaps, because of this), they are considerably more accessible than the other post-punk bands. And at least on this album, considerably closer to punk. They sort of strike me as more American-style New Wave than their British Post Punk contemporaries. And that’s why I don’t think this is quite as amazing as I want it to be. I mean, I like the songs a lot – they do a lot better job of writing Read More

Peter Gabriel [Melt] (1980)

Categories: 1980 and Music.

On December 31, 2008, I wrote the following: This may sound stupid, but this sounds little too much like 1980. They had a good thing going, those Genesis guys…and while I know that version of the band could never have topped The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, neither Gabriel nor the rest of the band ever demonstrated that kind of creativity again. That being said, this record is fine. There are some fine moments. However, the “world music” feels almost flown in compared to everything else. Both Bowie and the Discipline version of Crimson do aspects of this better. I Read More

Los Angeles (1980) by X

Categories: 1980 and Music.

In 2010 I wrote the following: On the whole this is a pretty great record and Xene is pretty damn alluring. There is a little too much Manzarek here for my liking. From the liner notes it sounds like the Doors cover and, perhaps, by extension, his involvement, was somehow a condition of the release, which is annoying and also not very “punk.” His organ adds something to their sound which was missing from most punk music of the era, but it is still a little odd that they didn’t seem to know “Soul Kitchen” before they did it. It’s Read More

British Steel (1980) by Judas Priest

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I have heard that this was sort of the Black Album of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal – the genre’s more popular and most accessible record to date. I don’t know Judas Priest, and I have no idea how much of a departure this was from earlier Priest albums, but it’s certainly sginificantly more accessible than Maiden or Motorhead (also, obviously far more “metal” than the latter). For years I have struggled with purposefully accessible music, wondering if artists sell out when they make their sound easier to access for the public. When I was young the idea Read More

Iron Maiden (1980)

Categories: 1980 and Music.

My knowledge of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been confined to Motorhead and the genre’s influences (primarily Thrash) for most of my metal-listening life. I was aware of its importance but never really had the time to give it much of a chance.The joke in the older metal camp is that Maiden is just faster “Achilles Last Stand” ad nauseum. That couldn’t be far from the truth. In fact, I barely hear the gallop here.Instead what I hear is a band that has managed to almost perfectly united the conventions of mid ’70s metal (especially the guitar Read More

Heaven and Hell (1980) by Black Sabbath

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I’m struggling here, really struggling. I honestly don’t know Sabbath post 1971. I’ve never gotten around to listening to those records because…well, there’s a lot of music in the world. And I’ve been happy enough to listen to the first few albums. So I don’t know what happened to Sabbath in the late seventies. Certainly there seems to be a consensus that they sucked.And I don’t know Dio really. I know the legend of Dio, but I don’t know him. I don’t know Elf, I don’t know Rainbow, I know maybe one song of his from movies (and honestly I Read More

Talking Heads at the Capitol Theatre November 4, 1980

Categories: 1980 and Music.

This is an incredible show which is very illustrative of the the “eras” bands go through. The band in Stop Making Sense is a great band, but they are utter professionals. They are having a great time, and they backed by a unique stage show that ads to the experience, but they are polished and utterly professional. They have done this before. The band in this performance is still hungry, even though they were already very established by this point. They are rawer, but more importantly, they are weirder. So many of the songs are radically different from the originals so Read More

The Viceroy of Ouidah (1980) by Bruce Chatwin

Categories: 1980, Books, and Fiction.

Is this mythology as history? Or maybe narrative journalism as history? I saw Cobra Verde ages ago and I didn’t know this was the source material. If memory serves, it was very liberally adapted. This is an absolutely crazy story, and at this remove I’m not sure if it matters what is true and what isn’t. It’s a fascinating and bizarre situation during a bizarre time and this kind of approach, well over a century removed, makes the whole story more alive, even if it maybe isn’t accurate. 8/10 Read More

Franck: String Quartet; Violin Sonata (1978, 1995, 2006) by Fitzwilliam Quartet; Pierre Amoyal, Pascal Roge

Categories: 1886, 1890, 1978, 1980, 1995, 2006, and Music.

I am a sucker for a good string quartet and I like to think that this is a very good string quartet. It’s certainly interesting for its era and, though not as ballsy as so many of the great quartets of the early 20th century, I think it would probably bear comparison with other notable quartets of the late 19th century, especially those by composers more established in chamber music. (It seems Franck did not compose a lot of it.) I am, as always, perplexed by the selection – the piano quintet would make more sense next to the quartet, Read More

Ancora Da Capo (1980) by The Ganelan Trio

Categories: 1980 and Music.

Free jazz can seem a little directionless even at the best of times. Now, I realize that is indeed a huge part of the point of being “free” but, in the wrong hands, it can just be hours of seemingly purposeless noodling. That being said, sometimes the very anarchy of free jazz is what is so appealing about it. On this recording, the Ganelin Trio achieve the remarkable accomplishment of making their free jazz sound directed. In fact this is one of the few times I have listened to a post-1960s free set (a pure one, not one influenced by Read More

Gloria (1980, John Cassevettes)

Categories: 1980 and Movies.

I am a big Cassavettes fan. Until this movie, I had liked everything of his I had seen up this point, and I think Killing of a Chinese Bookie is one of the great American movies of the ’70s. But Gloria feels like his heart wasn’t in it. And that makes sense: Commissioned to write the screenplay, he only came on board to direct after the original stars were all replaced and his wife was cast. That anecdote has ‘hack job’ written all over it and unfortunately it’s a bit of what we get. Sort of “auteur hack job.” The kid Read More

80s Movie Lists

Categories: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and Movies.

I’ve discovered that I am not always a good judge of 80s movies, as many of them I saw as a kid and they hold some kind of importance for me, whether they are any good or not. When I have rewatched them, the rating has no doubt dropped. But in many cases I haven’t seen these movies since I was in my mid-teens at the very latest, meaning that the ratings might not be so trustworthy. But how can I change the rating if I haven’t seen the movie in over a decade? Read More